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Gardner Pilot academy art students display their work at Museum of Fine Arts School

Kassmin Williams | 6/19/2013, 2:08 p.m.
ARCK Founder and Executive Director, Sara Mraish Demeter, and Arabic calligraphy artist, Hajj Waffa, work with students on an Arabic calligraphy project. Ashley Wood

Gardner Pilot Academy students are taking over the School of the Museum of Fine Arts with their artwork.

Artwork from the fourth, fifth and sixth grade Gardner Pilot Academy students will be displayed at the Museum School Thursday as part of Arts Resource Collaborative for Kids’ first student art exhibition from 6 to 9 p.m.

Patrons will have an opportunity to purchase the students work at the 21-plus event which will feature, raffles, dancing and cocktails.

Art Resource Collaborative for Kids (ARCK) is a new non-profit organization in Boston focused on creating opportunities for art experiences in Boston Public Schools.

“The point is really to provide high quality arts education with a deep learning,” ARCK founder Sara Mraish-Demeter said.

A study completed by the Boston Public Schools Art Expansion Planning Team, co-chaired by soon-to-be retired superintendent Carol Johnson, showed 70 percent of Boston Public School students receiving some type of arts education in school.

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Gardner Pilot Academy students work on a “Personal Flag” project combining color theory and personal heritage during art class provided by ARCK.

RCK is looking to partner with schools to provide equal access to art for all Boston students, according to Mraish-Demeter.

Mraish-Demeter noticed the absence of art education in some schools after enrolling her son, Sebastian, into kindergarten at the Josiah Quincy School where there weren’t any art classes and art education was dependent on a parent-run art committee.

An art enthusiast and mother of a kindergartener who loved to draw, Mraish-Demeter partnered with another Quincy school parent to plan an art festival for students.

From there, Mraish-Demeter recruited a group of people to form a committee and 40 artists to volunteer and work with students.

The group created the diversity through art program where kindergarten, first and second grade student’s created 840 pieces of art, which were displayed and auctioned at the school.

“I was impressed with how professional the diversity through art exhibition looked at the Josiah Quincy School. The display was incredible,” said Josiah Quincy School parent Andrea Blake. “The kids were really proud of their work.”

Mraish-Demeter knew she wanted to do something on her own for a while and volunteering at the Quincy school helped her realize advocating for art was it.

“It gave me that hope and inspiration that this should be done everywhere,” Mraish-Demeter said. “All the kids, I think, in the Boston Public School system need to have that experience.”

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A Gardner Pilot Academy student works to create an artwork that incorporates her name in Arabic calligraphy.

The art festival at the Quincy School opened the door for Mraish-Demeter to work with Gardner Pilot Academy during the 2012-2013 school year.

Fourth, fifth and sixth grade students at the school spent their Friday mornings working on art projects that taught lessons on culture including a project where students created mosaics and learned about Greek mythology and another where students were asked to create their own country and describe it.

For Mraish-Demeter, it’s not just about creating art. It’s about giving critical thinking, communication, and expression, and providing students with a non-traditional way to learn material.

For Gardner sixth grader Bergeline Hilaire, the opportunity to learn about art also taught her to be herself.

“To me, art means being yourself and being original. [It means] saying who you are and not changing on what other people think of you,” Hilaire said.

The ARCK program also helped Hilaire improve grades in other classes, according to her mother, Jeovanne Brumaire.

Brumaire said Hilaire seemed down after the family moved from Florida to Boston on Christmas in 2011.

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ARCK students created mosaics under the instruction of Boston based mosaic artists, Christos Hamawi.

“For me, in that moment it seemed like she was going down, but art helped bring her back up,” Brumaire said.

After one academic year at Gardner, Mraish-Demeter has seen transformation in students.

A fourth grade girl who rarely spoke in class began to open up about her family, grandmother’s death and her wish for everyone to get along, Mraish-Demeter said.

“Art brings the best out of kids and gives them an outlet to express themselves,” Mraish-Demeter said.

For ticket information, visit arckboston.blogspot.com.